After announcing her pregnancy on Instagram in June, Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell has been giving fans a close-up look at her journey into motherhood with an online series called Almost Ready. In a new episode this week, Mitchell got super emotional over the possibility that she might need to have a C-section after doctors explained they needed to turn the baby from her breech position.
In the clip, Mitchell goes to an appointment and learns her daughter is “head up.” A doctor tells her she’ll have to go to the hospital to have an external cephalic version (ECV) procedure to turn the baby in the womb. As the date approaches, Mitchell starts to get more nervous and emotional. On the drive to the hospital, her boyfriend, Matte Babel, asks about the possibility of an eventual C-section, and Mitchell begins to cry.
“I can’t even talk about this. It’s actually going to make me upset,” she says. “Even if it doesn’t happen today, I don’t want to have to do that.”
C-sections are incredibly common—almost a third of all deliveries in the U.S. are done by C-section, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the World Health Organization says that might be too many, suggesting some C-sections are performed when they’re not medically necessary.
The caution surrounding C-sections isn’t crazy—it is a major surgery, and just like any other procedure, it comes with risks and a formidable recovery. “It’s not just the surgery; it’s the recovery time,” Mitchell tells Babel. “I cannot be bedridden for however long it’s going to be. I really don’t want that. If I’m in bed, I’m going to go nuts…. You’ll be able to live your life still and I’ll be fucking stuck after the baby’s born.” Recovery can take up to eight weeks (though you’re not bedridden).
There is also plenty of research on the benefits of a vaginal birth, but that certainly doesn’t mean C-sections aren’t an incredibly important procedure that “may be necessary when vaginal delivery might pose a risk to the mother or baby,” says the WHO. “For example due to prolonged labour, fetal distress, or because the baby is presenting in an abnormal position.” In other words, a C-section often isn’t a choice.